Whether commercial, personal, political, professional, or spiritual, knowledge was capital for the Victorians in their ongoing project of constructing a modern information-based society. Victorian Secrecy explores the myriad ways in which knowledge was both zealously accumulated and jealously guarded by individuals, institutions, and government entities in Victorian Britain. Offering a wide variety of critical approaches and disciplinary perspectives, the contributors examine secretive actors with respect to a broad range of subjects, including the narrator in Tess of the d'Urbervilles, John Henry Newman's autobiographical novel Loss and Gain, Richard Dadd's The Fairy Feller's Masterstroke, modes of detection in Bleak House, the secret history of Harriet Martineau's role in the repeal of the Corn Law, and Victorian stage magicians. Taken together, the essays provide a richly textured account of which modes of hiding and revealing articulate secrets in Victorian literature and culture; how social relations are formed and reformed in relationship to secrecy; and what was at stake individually, aesthetically, and culturally in the Victorians' clandestine activities.
'… a well-written, well-argued and very interesting book. … demonstrate[s] that the idea of the information age, the very idea of information as a historical concept, continues to increase in scope and potency across a range of disciplines, and that the potential for cultural information history continues to be explored by scholars of all fields. Well worth a look.' Library and Information History '… the context provided by the volume encourages the reader to consider the wider cultural stakes.' Modern Language Review
Contents: Introduction: Victorian secrecy; an introduction, Albert D. Pionke; Hidden agendas: the secret to early 19th-century British burial reform, Sarah Hoglund; Harriet Martineau's 'only political plot': assassins, duels, and Corn-Law repeal, Deborah A. Logan; Secrecy and reticence in John Henry Newman's Loss and Gain, David J. Bradshaw; 'What connexion can there be?': detection in Dickens's Bleak House, John McBratney; Concealing minds and the case of The Woman in White, Maria K. Bachman; A Victorian picture puzzle: Richard Dadd's The Fairy Feller's Masterstroke, Eleanor Fraser Stansbie; Detecting business fraud at home: white-collar crime and the sensational clergyman in Victorian domestic fiction, Tamara S. Wagner; George Eliot's Felix Holt, The Radical and Byronic secrets, Denise Tischler Millstein; The perverse secrets of masculinity in Augusta Webster's dramatic poetry, Robert P. Fletcher; Victorian conjuring secrets, Michael Claxton; A secret censorship: the British Home Office v. Town Talk, Allison L.E. Wee; Secrets, silence, and the fractured self: Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Brooke McLaughlin Mitchell; Bibliography; Index.